Henderson Group – NI protocol has not damaged business…

shopping, corona, business

The Henderson Group own or supply all the Spar and Vivo shops you see all over the place. With annual sales close to 1 billion they are a massive local success story. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph not only are they getting on fine with the NI Protocol, but they are also expanding: Mr Doody, Henderson Group sales and marketing director, said: “Our long-term local sourcing strategy has allowed us to take a strong advantage against the multiples who are …

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Kate Hoey – “domination” of anti-Union views within key professions…

palace, london, parliament

A bit of a kerfuffle on Twitter over Baroness Hoey’s forward to a report by Jamie Bryson on ‘Vetoing The Protocol’.  From the forward: “I support the increasingly strategic activism of young (and not so young) people within the pro-Union community, who are coming together in various ways to develop networks and sharing of ideas… “I also entirely support the ongoing work to encourage those, especially from working class loyalist communities, to engage in education and to seek entry to …

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The tourist stories of the surviving Shankill Bomber are unlikely to be doing his own community much good…

Before Christmas I was on Nolan to talk about whether it is right for a bomber (who killed 9 civilians) to be making money by taking tourists around Belfast telling them the story of the Troubles? You can get the whole segment here: Victims and survivors of the Shankill bomb hit out after it emerges bomber Sean Kelly is giving Troubles tours in North [email protected] | @Phil_Kelly_ 🎧 https://t.co/FKmohB3Tqu pic.twitter.com/4HwaQ923HZ — Stephen Nolan (@StephenNolan) December 22, 2021 Without labouring it, I …

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Up to 1 in 10 people had Omicron over the New Year….

vaccination, vaccination certificate, booster

The Omicron variant is going through the population like a dose of salts. Prof Ian Young told BBC News NI that about one in 10 people in some parts of Northern Ireland has the virus. He said he expected a peak in the next two to three weeks. Almost 12% of the total number of positive cases recorded since the start of the pandemic were reported in the past seven days. Northern Ireland has recorded a total of 432,492 coronavirus …

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Ashers: A Long Running Saga Is About To End…

date of birth, cake, cute

I don’t need to rehash the entire timeline of the Lee v Ashers Baking Company suffice to say that the issue has plagued both the human rights, and the LGBT sector since 2014. I was somewhat involved in the originating event that sparked the entire mishegas, a simple celebratory event held in Bangor Town Hall, hosted by then Mayor Andrew Muir (now MLA for North Down) for Queerspace – a long-running LGBT organisation based in Belfast that has been at …

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Tourism spend by southern visitors to NI was up 151%….

ireland, dunlunce castle, northern ireland

The Belfast Telegraph reports on the boost to NI Tourism by increasing visitors from the South: Tourism NI said it had found major growth in expenditure after analysing cardholder spend by people visiting from over the border. During June to September, total tourism spend by southerners was up 151% on the same time in 2019, while hotel spending using cards was up by the same level. And spending by southern visitors in bars and taverns had tripled, Tourism NI said, …

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Making a list. Checking it twice…

list, icon, symbol

Phone, keys, torch, money, shopping list, lights, hearing aids. This ‘aide memoire’, attached to the mirror in my kitchen, is faded now, a bit like me in my 80th year. Forgetful more and more and not a little scared as closer and closer contemporaries are being told they have early onset – you know what… When I was invited out for lunch by two grandsons the thought of having them both entirely to myself for a couple of hours filled …

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One day in January…

winter, bench, outlook

This is no ordinary day, I think. The morning sun blinks out from a January sky and there are things to do that I have always done, but still I know that this day will probably change my life. I get the children ready. They chuckle at a cartoon on the television and wriggle themselves reluctantly into their coats. I’m trying to keep everything normal. I take my son to nursery and my daughter to school. They are very young. …

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Changing the record…

vinyl, plate, vinyl record

When blue snowflakes start fallin’… I was driving home for Christmas when I heard it on the car radio, you know the form: baltic, lonely, missing someone all set to the dulcet tones of Elvis. We hear all the sad songs on the radio at this time of year just to reinforce that it’s a time when loved ones gather together and to make you feel even more alone, especially if you’re not at that party. It’s enough to make …

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What would NI be like if your mum has just been made sole joint FM/dFM?

light, lamp, warm

Staying the lighter side of things, lets all assume our mum is put in sole charge of Northern Ireland? What five major changes would she make? It’ll work best if you think about what she would say, rather just expressing your own view. Mine was methodical in how she went about things, and was never slow to inform me that I wasn’t, so much. This is supposed to be fun, so only comment if you’re going to play. There’s no …

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Seán Ó Riada tapped into a deep well of local culture and found a rich pool of universal experience

cherries, fruit, sour cherries

Keeping to the chilled theme for the holidays, I promised a second musical treat. It’s Doireann Ní Ghlacáin’s documentary on her grandfather, C20 Irish composer Seán Ó Riada. He died in 1971 leaving behind haunting pieces like the score to Mise Éire: If there’s a comparison to be made between Ó Riada and Barenboim it’s not in the music so much as their commitment. Seán’s Ceoltóirí Chualann was a presage to The Chieftains both of whom transformed Irish music (and language). And …

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Reflections: “Casual comedy was part of this time’s fabric, as was terror…”

titanic, belfast, texture

Nicholas Allen is Chaired Professor in Humanities and Director of Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia. He recalls a “thinning artery” of peace in the geography of Belfast’s late Troubles in the early 90s. In the early nineties I lived in the upstairs half of a corner house on Dudley Street, a side street on the edge of the Holylands, that Belfast quarter sectioned by the Ormeau Road, the river Lagan, the Botanic Gardens, and Queen’s university. The Holylands were anything …

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“There are no checkpoints in the orchestra, there are no passport controls….”

violin, music, fiddle

Just to keep things light this week, this is the first of two musical features I want to highlight. They’re both about an hour and fifteen minutes long and both take as their subject a figure from music who’s been extraordinary. Today it is Daniel Barenboim. The programme went out on BBC Four but n the UK it is still available on BBC iPlayer. It’s cribbed from previous materials edited to give full of human insight into Barenboim’s approach to …

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To be truly alive we need to feel the complete spectrum of emotions…

cold, snow, fashion

I borrowed John Banville’s new book Snow from the library over Christmas. It is a detective story set in 1950s Ireland. It has all the elements of your classic golden age mystery, a dead body in the library of a rural stately home in winter. Winter is one of the key characters of the book. A lot of time is given over the cold of Winter and specifically the cold of the fading country house. The family in the story …

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Sound Walk up the Glen River to the top of Slieve Donard

I’ve been up Slieve Donard maybe three or four times in my life, the most recent about three or four years ago. As a kid I remember being awed by its height as it seemingly rose up from sea level to dominate the town of Newcastle. Each time there’s a special feeling that derives from being at the top of your seeable world, everything else you know below you. From its height you glimpse NI’s tiny snatch of wilderness And …

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Slugger Podcast: Greg Keeffe on How the pandemic is changing how we live…

It has been over a year since I last did a Podcast. I wish I could say I was doing something constructive with my time but it was mostly doom scrolling – I imagine some of you can relate. To get out of my funk I turned to Greg Keeffe. Greg Keeffe is an academic and urban designer with over 30 years experience in sustainability, energy use and its impact on the design of built form and urban space. He …

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Christmas Day Open Chat…

angel, figurine, ornament

And so this is Christmas. As I type this Belfast is engulfed in a grey wet gloom. I suppose it matches the general mood. For a second year running Covid is the unwelcome visitor at Christmas. I know some of you might be on your own, or in isolation with Covid. Or maybe you are working or need a break from the family. I have created this post as an open thread to discuss whatever you like. I do in …

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Watch our End of Year Review For free…

As you might know, we had to cancel our live event due to Omicron but we did a streaming version instead. We are very grateful to all the people who gave a donation to watch the live version. Our Christmas gift to you is you can now watch our End of Year Review for free! If you like what we do, please consider buying Slugger a Christmas drink. Give us the price of a pint or even a round. Or …

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Omicron’s Real Threat to the NHS May Be Shutting Its Chinese Supply Line

If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that the world never pays enough attention to things that happen in inland China in December. The whole metropolitan region of the Chinese city of Xi’an, home to the terracotta warriors, has just been put under a hard lockdown, with residents to stay home except for one person from each household allowed out to buy groceries every two days. Thirteen million people confined at home because of a Delta outbreak …

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